Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A machine consisting of a combination of pulleys, used for raising heavy weights: a term formerly used by writers on mechanics.
  • noun An apparatus of the same character formerly used in surgery to reduce dislocations.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Surg.) A machine consisting of many pulleys; specifically, an apparatus formerly used for reducing luxations.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A machine consisting of many pulleys
  • noun surgical A machine of many pulleys, formerly used to reduce dislocation
  • noun mechanics A windlass with many pulleys and truckles

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin polyspaston ("hoisting-tackle with many pulleys"), from Ancient Greek πολύσπαστον (poluspaston, "compound pulley")

Examples

  • This kind of machine is called a polyspast, because of the many revolving sheaves to which its dexterity and despatch are due.

    The Ten Books on Architecture

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